I’ve had the Acorns app as a complement to my usual Fidelity investment accounts since 2017. I use it to generate a little funny money – and most of it is completely free.
The website and app interface are easy to use and nice to look at. Over the past couple of years, I’ve grown to like what Acorns has to offer, and recommend it as a way to get started with investing. Even if you typically invest elsewhere, Acorns is still worth a download.
If you sign-up with my link, you’ll get a free $5 added to your account.
Here’s what I like about my experience with Acorns so far.
Everyone should give the Acorns app a download
A couple of years ago, Acorns and Stash appeared around the same time. Both focus on micro-investing with cheap index funds, have no account minimums, and cost $1 per month to use. Since then, both companies have put out debit cards.
Acorns focuses on keeping investing dead simple, and has partnerships to earn free money. Whereas Stash lets you choose a “cause” to invest in, and recently introduced a “stock-back” debit card (which isn’t very good, btw).
But Acorns has the edge.
1. Earn free money to invest at Simply Spend merchants
Acorns has a section of their app/website called “Found Money.” Here, you’ll find find a few hundred merchants they’ve partnered with. When you spend, the merchant awards cashback that Acorns invests in your account. It works two ways:
- Some merchants require you to click through, then shop or sign-up for their offering
- Whereas others give you free money for spending any amount on any credit or debit card
That latter category is called “Simply Spend,” and the partners frequently rotate. In the past, they’ve had H&R Block, BarkBox, Rover, Uber, and Sam’s Club, to name a few.
So far, I’ve earned ~$59 to invest completely free from Simply Spend merchants.
All’s you gotta go is link your external banks and card accounts. When you spend at any Simply Spend merchant on any of your linked cards, the money you earn will automatically appear in your Acorns account, where it’s invested into the portfolio you’ve selected.
Right now, current Simply Spend stores include:
Don’t like ’em? Just you wait. They’re always changing, and there’s almost always a couple that are good. I’ve consistently gotten a few bucks each month just for shopping like normal.
2. Take advantage of bonus offers for new services
A step beyond Simply Spend, you can earn between $5 and $100 for taking advantage of a new service. Most are financial service products, but others include wine and dinner subscriptions, using new apps (like GrubHub and Uber Eats), and being a new customer to several other places.
Granted, you can get similar offers with other apps, so definitely compare. And remember, you have to click the link inside your Acorns account to get credit.
That said, I’ve found a couple new things in here I wanted to try anyway and didn’t find listed anywhere else, so I went for it. In my case, I got a $25 boost – for free.
3. Use Found Money like a shopping portal
Continuing with more FREE money from Acorns, you can click through and shop like an ordinary shopping portal, and earn cash when you shop.
That’s not groundbreaking, but I’ve occasionally seen best-ever offers or certain places that were only listed here (like Airbnb bookings for 1.8% cashback and Postmates orders for 1% cashback).
Acorns are negotiating their own partnerships and payouts on their network – so they sometimes have different/better offers than the regular Cartera-powered portals. Always check Cashback Monitor to make sure you’re getting the best return.
Speaking of returns, you might opt to shop through Acorns even if they’re not the best offer. Why? Compound interest, baby.
Not only is it the eighth wonder of the world, but if you let it sit there long enough, you can earn a formidable return.
4. Set and forget
Speaking of which, let all that free money just sit there and earn you dividends. That’s what I do. Free money earning more free money. All I do is shop like normal and occasionally check for special offers.
But thanks to the Simply Spend partners from #1, you can literally link your banks one time and go about your life. Maybe peek in every once in a while to see how much you’ve earned.
While Acorns does cost $1 per month to use, I’ve never had a month where I haven’t earned more than that, either through free money or with dividend payouts.
5. Diversify your investments
I have all my free money set to an Aggressive portfolio. *growls* 🐺🐾
And why not? It’s not like I have anything to lose. But more interestingly, my portfolio is a mix of investments I wouldn’t otherwise dabble in.
Things like emerging markets, small caps, and real estate. It’s a pretty cool blend, and not one I’d select myself. But because I’m letting Acorns pick the stocks, allocate funds, and rebalance for me, it’s nice to sit in the back seat and watch it all happen.
There ya have it – why the Acorns app is worth a download for most peeps, even if you usually invest elsewhere. I’ve even gotten my mom hooked on it. She likes shopping at Brandless and called me all excited when she saw the free Found Money appear in her account.
Of course, you can also set small recurring investments (the minimum is $5) and let them grow over time. Acorns does well at guiding you to your optimal portfolio. They do all the work selecting where the money goes. If this is the app that gets you to start investing, I’m all for it. Plus, they have IRAs where you can save for retirement. It’s a great way to get your feet wet.
I’m a little more seasoned, but still find value in maintaining my account. It’s fun to watch the interest compound and see how their index funds perform. Plus, free money here and there really adds up – especially after a year or two.
All in all, worth the download.
Do you already use Acorns? What’s your experience been?
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